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The Response of the Informal Sector to Trade Liberalization

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  • Pinelopi K. Goldberg
  • Nina Pavcnik

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between trade liberalization and informality. It is often claimed that increased foreign competition in developing countries leads to an expansion of the informal sector, defined as the sector that does not comply with labor market legislation. Using data from two countries that experienced large trade barrier reductions in the 1980's and 1990's, Brazil and Colombia, we examine the response of the informal sector to liberalization. In Brazil, we find no evidence of a relationship between trade policy and informality. In Colombia, we do find evidence of such a relationship, but only for the period preceding a major labor market reform that increased the flexibility of the Colombian labor market. These results point to the significance of labor market institutions in assessing the effects of trade policy on the labor market.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2003. "The Response of the Informal Sector to Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 9443, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9443 Note: ITI
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    1. John P. Haisken-DeNew & Christoph M. Schmidt, "undated". "Inter-Industry and Inter-Region Differentials: Mechanics and Interpretation," Working Papers 9504, SELAPO Center for Human Resources.
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    4. Pavcnik, Nina & Blom, Andreas & Goldberg, Pinelopi & Schady, Norbert, 2003. "Trade liberalization and labor market adjustment in Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2982, The World Bank.
    5. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 331-366.
    6. Attanasio, Orazio & Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Pavcnik, Nina, 2004. "Trade reforms and wage inequality in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 331-366.
    7. Adriana Kugler, 1999. "The Impact of Firing Costs on Turnover and Unemployment: Evidence from the Colombian Labour Market Reform," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 389-410, August.
    8. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy,Discrimination, and Keynesian Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 376-414, July.
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    11. Edwards, Sebastian, 1988. "Terms of Trade, Tariffs, and Labor Market Adjustment in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(2), pages 165-185, May.
    12. Harrison, Ann & Hanson, Gordon, 1999. "Who gains from trade reform? Some remaining puzzles," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 125-154.
    13. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-293, March.
    14. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou & Pavcnik, Nina, 2005. "Trade, wages, and the political economy of trade protection: evidence from the Colombian trade reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 75-105.
    15. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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